Mystified about Curling and burnt leaves

nihalDecember 10, 2008

Hello, I have quite a number of Hydrangeas in my garden, some in the ground some potted. I suspect they are just "generic" plants, since I found them here when I moved in and Morocco is not known for cultivating special Hydrangeas. My problem is that all my plants have trouble growing : baby leaves seems to curl in on themselves before they even grow out, and then fall off. Larger leaves turn a brown-black around their edges, as if heavily burned. This is a problem I seem to have, year around, irrelevant of the climate. Flower buds start to grow, but never fully, so the overall plants are always alive but barren. I have tried many insecticides, as well as hydrangea-specific fertilizer, but to no avail. Since I love these plants, and would like to see them grow and bloom, all help would be greatly appreciated.

the climate here is Mediterannean, and the commercial products hard to come by, other than generic "insecticide", "fertilizer" etc.

Thanks for your help,

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Hello, nihal. Curled or shriveled leaves may indicate winter damage when it happens in the Spring or chemical damage from some insecticides/fungicides (direct contact is not necessary; sometimes wind drifted particles cause this). Depending on the size of the plant and the way wind drifts, damage may be isolated to the side of the shrub closest to the source of the chemical.

It can also mean that you have an insect infestation such as that caused by the spittle bug. Of course, you may a Moroccan insect instead; you can find out by opening the leaves and inspecting the leaf for "things that move".

Sun burn can also cause some shriveling but the leaf would first turn yellow (including the leaf veins). Drought stress can also cause curling on the edges of leaves; eventually the leaves would turn brown and fall.

Finally, salt build up in potting mix can cause some leaves to curl in potted plants. To flush the salts, you can fill the container with water all the way to the brim and let it drain through the bottom holes. Do this several times once a month if your water is very alkaline.

Mediterranean climates tend to be a little dry so use about 3-4" (7.6 to 10.2cm) of acidic mulch to help conserve soil moisture. Apply it a little past the drip line and water the pants when the soil feels almost dry or dry to the touch to a depth of 4" (10cm).

Does this give you some ideas of things to check?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 7:25AM
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I've had that trouble with plants in the ground. Most specifically, wide leafed varities. Some are more sun tolerant than others and I think that the leaves are getting sun-burnt and any developing flowers and leaves are having the same issue. i plan to relocate them next year as they are close to the house foundation and cement walkway which I think just helps them get too hot and stressed.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2008 at 10:03PM
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